Jodie Sweetin (Stephanie Judith Tanner)
Jodie Sweetin spent most of her childhood life on "Full House" and was 13 went the series was canceled. She went on to graduate from Los Alamitos High School in 1999 and then attended Chapman University in California. But the end of "Full House" was tough on Sweetin, who ended up turning to drugs and alcohol, as she revealed in her book "unSweetined."
The actress also hosted the second season of the Fuse TV show "Pants-Off Dance-Off" and now is happily married with two daughters -- four-year-old Zoie and two-year-old Beatrix. Over the past few years, Sweetin has also appeared in a couple independent films and turned her substance struggles into a positive, as she explains below.
Can you tell me how you got cast on "Full House"?
I actually didn't audition for "Full House." I did an episode of another Miller-Boyett show called "Valerie" and I played the next door neighbor's niece Pamela Pool. They had "Full House" in development at the time and thought I would be perfect for Stephanie and that's how I got cast.
I spoke to Dave Coulier and he said you stole the show at the first table read and he was basically like, "Oh crap."
Do you remember what that was like? Were you intimidated at all?
No, you know, for me, acting was fun and it was like playtime. It was never intimidating for me. But I started reading at a really early age -- I started reading when I was about three and a half. So I went to the table reading and I could read all my lines on my own and for a barely five year old, that was pretty rare.
Do you remember, in either watching it or filming it, a favorite "Full House" episode?
You know, I didn't watch the show a lot when I was younger, but the fun ones always to film were the ones where we got to travel, like to Hawaii or Walt Disney World. Those were sort of like a big family trip slash field trip. But I also loved the ones where Stephanie got to dance. I got to bring in my dance teacher and a lot of the girls that I danced with outside of "Full House" and we would choreograph routines. That was always fun for me.
I think every time I hear "Motown Philly," I think about Stephanie's dance recital.
Yeah. That and "Love Shack." People always say, "Oh my god! That's your song!" [Laughs.]
You had such a big cast with so many kids and on top of it, you had Comet, there were monkeys, elephants. Did you like working with the animals?
Oh my god. I loved working with the animals. It was super fun. The best part was that the animal trainers would bring all different kinds of animals for us. I was always really interested in them. I remember they brought in a wolf once. I have a picture of me with a raccoon on my shoulder. They brought in some of the larger spiders from "Arachnophobia" because it was the same trainers that we were working with and it was shooting on the stage next door to us. It was always really fun. I think there was one episode where I had a parrot on my shoulder. I'm pretty sure it pooped on me, of course. That's what happens. But I always seemed to get stuck with weird animal scenes.
You had so many comedians on set. Which co-stars made it most difficult to keep a straight face when you were doing scenes?
Bob and Dave for sure. They would just sort of play off of each other and then it was always the kids that got in trouble because we couldn't stop laughing. They'd pull it together and be ready to go and I was six or seven years old still giggling. It was definitely fun, but that always made it a little more difficult.
Oh yeah. Do you have a favorite guest star that you had fun working with?
I remember Little Richard was on and accidentally slapped me.
What?! How'd that happen?
[Laughs.] I was standing next to him and we were doing this scene where he was playing the piano and he did a big finish with his hands and it was just like, "Boom." He felt so bad. But I'm on a fairly short list of people who can say they've been slapped by Little Richard. [Laughs.]
Do you remember how you felt when you found out the show was ending?
Oh my god. I think we were all completely devastated. There was a period of a few weeks there where we were sort of in limbo and we didn't know if we were going to get picked up by a different network or what was going to happen. And then it finally came through that the series was ending and we were getting canceled and we were just devastated. It was a really close-knit set, not just the cast, but a lot of the crew and everything. A lot of them had worked on the series the entire time so it was a very family-like environment. It was like saying goodbye to people that you've known and loved and been around for eight years. It was really hard. It was devastating.
... Especially for you and the other young actors who had started on the show at such an early age and really grown up on "Full House."
Oh yeah. For the kids on the show -- Candace was about 10 when the show started, I was five, and obviously, Ashley and Mary-Kate were like nine months old -- so this was for most of us, the majority of our lives. That was a huge chunk of my life and I was like, "Now what?"
Yeah, that must of been scary. Looking back, which was worse -- the hair or the clothes on "Full House"?
Oh god. Well, you can't really do one without the other so I think the combination was pretty horrific.
Some people had it worse than others though.
Yeah. Some people did have it worse than others. I would say the clothes. My hair wasn't too bad, except I had the occasional side ponytail and maybe a bad perm for a season. But the clothes ...
There was one clip on YouTube and my husband was watching it with the kids and they thought it was hilarious. It was me wearing bright blue, shiny leggings and like, a leotard or a sweater or something and my curly hair and I'm doing the running man. I looked like a muppet. I had these skinny blue legs and a giant top and huge hair.
In your defense, that was the look.
Oh totally. It's sort of coming back unfortunately. I try to avoid it at all costs. But the clothes were pretty ... umm ... bright.
For sure. I know Stephanie had some catchphrases, but out of them all, what was your favorite?
Of course I'm gonna say, "How rude!" I gotta stick with the classic. I mean, there's a t-shirt from Urban Outfitters for God's sakes that says "How rude." [Laughs.] My friend called me the other day and said, "I'm at the gym and there's this really muscly older guy with your t-shirt on." I was like, "That's awesome."
That it! And where do you think Stephanie would be now?
She probably went to college and then opened a dance studio and has a couple daughters in dance. That was always what I imagined, like, "Oh, Stephanie moved on and had a cute little life." [Laughs.]
That sounds possible. I'm sure "Full House" fans come up to you often. What do you hear most?
What I hear all the time is like, "Oh my god. Me and my sisters, we totally pretended to be you guys." People reenacted "Full House" constantly in their lives, [they're] like, "I was Stephanie, my little sister was Michelle and my big sister was D.J. and we had Mr. Bear." You know, the whole thing. That's definitely what I hear the most.
You mentioned your husband and kids watching "Full House" on YouTube a little. The show is on in syndication all over. Do you ever watch reruns?
Not all the time, but my husband DVR'd a couple episodes the other day because it was on. And my four-year-old Zoie loves to watch it. She's like, "I want to watch 'Mommy's Show.'" She thinks it's really funny that I'm on TV and I'm little.
That's so cute. And Dave said his son called it "Daddy's Show."
Yeah. It's cute. My two year old doesn't really what it is, but they know it's me.
And your daughter is almost the age that you were when you started "Full House."
I know. It's crazy! She's coming up on four and a half so I'm like, "Oh my god." It seems like forever ago.
If your kids wanted to act, would you be OK with it? The entertainment industry has changed so much since you started. Would you be hesitant?
Yeah, not hesitant in a bad way, just hesitant to take time to weigh the pros and the cons. But if my kids wanted to do it, I would encourage them. Maybe I'd be more likely to encourage theatre or something like that that's a little less intrusive into your life, but they can still get that creative expression. You know, now it's like everyone has a reality show and there's just a bunch of bullshit that goes along with it. But if they really were dying to do it, fine. I don't think my four year old really wants to do it. She loves performing, but she always wants to do it her way. She gets kind of shy and if you tell her to do something, she says, "No. I don't want to." She would be a director, not an actor. [Laughs.]
I know a lot of the former castmembers keep in touch. Who do you speak with the most?
You know, probably Dave Coulier because I'm very close with his girlfriend Melissa so we see them a lot and go over there for barbecues and stuff. And you know, Jeff Franklin, who created the show, I talk to him a lot. We went over to his house on Labor Day for a barbecue. I mean, we all still see each other, but those are the ones I talk to most often.
There are always rumors about the cast getting together for a reunion. Would you participate?
Sure! Why not? You know, I think the thing that everyone says is, "Yeah. Sure. I'd do one, but everybody else wouldn't do one." I don't know if that's even true or not, but that's what everyone says in every interview I've seen. [Laughs.]
And what's next for you?
I just shot a pilot for a show called "Singled Out" that we're shopping to networks right now. And other than that, I started working recently in the drug and alcohol treatment field. I just finished going to school for my drug and alcohol counseling certificate. I'm working in treatment right now and I'm really loving it. I sort of have my feet in two different worlds and I really love both of them.